A Giant Iceberg Grounded Itself Near a Greenland Town

WIRED | 7/17/2018 | Mejs Hasan
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When an iceberg breaks off from a glacier, it can drift for thousands of miles, traveling freely across the open ocean. But last week, an iceberg’s journey was interrupted when it got stuck on a shallow part of the seafloor along Greenland’s western coast.

In other words, the iceberg was grounded—and it had lodged itself right beside the small island village of Innaarsuit. Such grounded icebergs are actually pretty common, says Fiamma Straneo, who has traveled about 20 times to Greenland’s ice sheet for her work at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. What’s unique about the iceberg by Innaarsuit, which has a population of less than 200, is both its size and its proximity to the village.

Iceberg - Experiences - Water - Direction - Seafloor

A grounded iceberg experiences ocean water pushing at it in one direction and the seafloor pushing in another—a tug-of-war that makes it easy for limbs to break off with a splash that can rock boats or flood coasts. The iceberg might even do an entire somersault in the water. Across the world, from the Canadian Arctic to Patagonia in Argentina, that shedding is both a tourist attraction and an issue of concern. The larger the iceberg, the larger the waves it causes if it breaks apart—and the Innaarsuit iceberg rises about 300 feet above the water, according to a Danish meteorologist quoted by the Danish broadcaster DR. The iceberg that felled the Titanic is thought to have risen a mere 50 to 100 feet above water.

What happens with a grounded iceberg is almost luck of the draw, says Margaret Lindeman, a PhD student also studying the Greenland ice sheet through Scripps. Perhaps only a small chunk of ice will fall off the iceberg; maybe a little piece will break off the bottom, allowing the iceberg to lift off the seafloor and drift away. Or maybe...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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